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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What's it like over there? Letters from Iraq

Thursday, August 10, 2006

EDITOR'S NOTE: As members of the National Guard from Brazil go to Iraq, one of Brazil's own, Monte Porter, is already there. For security reasons, we will not reveal too much about his specific job or location.

Monte is also a Guardsman. He was born in Brazil but now lives in North Carolina. He is keeping a journal and has consented to share his e-mails to his family with our readers.

His father is Randy Porter of Brazil.. If you would like to contact Monte, please call Randy Porter, 448-8758.

By MONTE PORTER

For The Times

The major task between me and the infantry guys from Puerto Rico was to transfer all the equipment on their books to mine.

Now, keep in mind that we are talking about a considerably large amount of stuff, a value in excess of $8 million.

I wasn't about to take their word for anything, so I demanded to see everything.

My good friend, Jack, has taught me well about property accountability. Over the past couple of years, he has also helped me develop negotiating skills and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. Another key skill in the negotiations for this property was to show them what was wrong and how to fix it.

We successfully accomplished the task of transferring all the property from them to me in four days. It normally takes a company commander about two weeks to accomplish the task and someone usually ends up paying for at least one item when all is said and done. So far, no one has had to pay in this case. We both went our separate ways and agree that we both have good things to share with one another, should our paths ever cross again.

The whole ordeal was truly successful, albeit veddy, veddy stressful.

Funny thing about the whole transition time: the guys I dealt with spoke so much broken English, I ended up dreaming in broken English for a while afterwards! Dis was a goot learning experience, as it turned out. I will never underestimate the opportunities for success again.

Man, this "sunny beach" has a lot to offer me in the next year! I can't wait to see what opportunity lies around the next bend in the road.

I had to give you the Reader's Digest version of the last week or so in the above paragraphs. Remember, our OPSEC (operational security) requirements don't allow me to go into a lot of detail of how we do business. However, there is at least one of you out there who know exactly the torture I endured last week. For those of you who don't have a clue about what I just said, read on and ignore my babbling.

I'll have to say that the e-mails I receive from each of you are so very important. Even if the dialogue just says, "Hey, I was thinking about you." The e-mail connection to home keeps me going. What did we ever do before e-mail? How about before the Internet? Life sure has changed dramatically during the past 21 years in which I have served.

The lines for a pay phone virtually don't exist, unless there is no internet service available. I can remember waiting in line for a couple of hours just to make a five-minute call, hoping someone would be at home to pick up on the other end. I'm really pleased with technology!

Your thoughts, prayers, pictures, comments, packages and overall genuine concern for us is most appreciated. We choose to endure these "challenging" conditions in order to share one of the most important facets of life in America: Freedom. Many Americans take that gift for granted everyday of their lives.

Just once, I wish every student in the United States could walk in the shoes of an American soldier on a peace-keeping mission. To see the stark reality of what life is like in another country where running water and sewage treatment are merely life-long dreams. To smell the pungent odor of a man who works in the blazing and blistering sun all day for a meager wage of about $5/day and see the sheer joy in his eyes because he is making a difference for himself and his family. Americans need to see the determination of the Iraqi people to make an improvement to their own lives in their own country. My opinions are merely words which simply cannot describe life outside the United States in a way in which our people would suddenly wake up and see the morbid excess of our daily life. We take WAY too much of our lives for granted, [stepping down from the soapbox now].

Most of you have asked what life is like here at Camp Adder. I will delve into the inner workings to attempt to paint you a mental picture of this lovely resort community, another "sunny beach." I have to say, the weather here is beyond comprehension. The sky is mostly blue with a brown sand-like haze. The wind is always blowing from the West and the temperature is up. We have at least one sandstorm a week and it has rained six times in the past 12 days. As I write this, I'm sitting at my computer with a bandana around my face to keep out the dust from the current dust storm. I've decided to focus on weather for this week, leaving many more topics of conversation in the weeks ahead. To say the least, I will attempt to make this as entertaining as any meteorologist who lives for this sort of stuff. Please bare with me, the heat will make you do that. Sorry about the mental picture that was just created, I got a little side- tracked.

I've told many of you in a quick reply that it's hot as hell here. Not that I've actually been to hell, but I'm imagining something very similar. The daytime temperature here at Camp Adder has hovered between 110 and 118 degrees F. for the past week.

I usually get up around 5 a.m., just to get some outside work accomplished. During that time of day, temp is only 85. I almost have to pack a jacket with me... .NOT!

We can get up and work for about 2 1/2 hours before things really take off. We work in our new motor pool cleaning up the mountain of garbage left by the last unit. Another week or so and we will have it ready to move in and we can set up our very own maintenance tent.

Luckily, breakfast ends at 0830, so I've made a command decision to work in the new motor pool from 0500 until 0800 and in the Company area (in the A/C) for the rest of the day.

Most of the days here have been pretty decent. Like I've said before, this is the cradle of civilization and I can clearly see why the kids moved away when they grew up.

On a lighter note, I definitely could pick up a part time job testing sunscreen for you folks at home.



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